16th April 2018

I’ve always been drawn to the chronology of things, being able to look back over periods of time and identify the evolution of an idea, a sound, a place. For a while now I’ve felt like I’ve been coming to the end of a particular era of my music, and have been tying things up in a faintly subconscious way. Arachnidiscs have just announced pre-orders for my new CD Exteriors, which sold out its limited run fairly quickly and has gone onto a second run already. That’s a compilation of pieces that never quite found a home, an album I’d wanted to make for ages portraying a normal everyday town situation, rather than the rural / exotic / surreal soundscapes I normally end up making. There are some very old tracks on it, so in some way it’s of a kin with Leaf Pass, but overall I’m really happy to have finally made this little record that’s been eluding me for such a long time now. You can pick that up from the Arachnidiscs Bandcamp.

Otherwise I’m now just sorting out label stuff for Holosphere, the final piece of the Sphere trilogy of that started with Ambisphere and Myosphere. It’s not too dissimilar in mood, although is the most rhythm-based of the three. The trilogy is born of my love of ’90s ambient, particularly the heavily sample-based end of it a la FSOL and The Orb. Sometime down the line once I have the rights to Ambisphere back I’ll be doing a nice 3CD box of those. In the meantime, Myosphere is down to the last four tapes on No Problema, so this is probably your last chance to grab that.

Holosphere runs a little like this:
01. Ladybird Spider
02. Verdant Sphinx
03. Blades of Grass
04. Baby Universe
05. Cromagnon
06. The Mauve Raven
07. Pargeons
08. Distance Collapse
09. Spacemoth
10. Little Leaf
11. Retrofire

To coincide with this, I’m also going to be reissuing my entire back catalogue on CDr. I had had plans to work on some nice deluxe 2CD reissues, but the time and money involved would mean the whole campaign would drag out over a few years, and frankly it’s not so healthy to be putting all that much effort into the past when I could be putting it into the present. So instead I’m going to make all of my out-of-print releases available on CDr again. In all applicable cases, these will be the same issues as were on sale on my Bandcamp for a limited time a couple of years back, only with slightly updated artwork (all will be credited to International Debris). There are also several which  have not received a CD or any physical release before, and some of these will be expanded editions. I’m hoping to have those ready by the end of May.

After that there’ll be a bit of a break while I start to work out how to translate all the ideas in my head into new sounds.

I’ve been helping out restart the Terminal project after a couple of years of silence. Season 3 of Terminal Radio is coming later this year, and there are some very big names involved. I’ve been working on mixes for that so I’ll be popping up and hopefully some artists I’ve invited along will be too. Once that’s settled in we’ll be looking at where to take Terminal as a collective and label, hopefully with physical releases and art editions somewhere down the line…

And while I’ve not been doing all that, I’ve been keeping myself busy working on my FSOL wiki.

27th February 2018

Ok, so the situation with the album has finally been resolved. The contract situation with Psychonavigation has been sorted out and the album will be staying with the label until the contract runs out next year. That’s available from the usual places. I’ll then be selling the Ambisphere cassettes once the contract has ended.

In other news, there should be two more records at some point this year. I can only reveal the titles at the moment: Arboretum and Exteriors. Both are very different from each other, although the latter recalls a couple of particular albums from my past. I’ll have release details for those closer to the time, but it looks like at least one should be something quite special.

My main focus at the minute is basically getting better after some serious mental health issues so far this year. One of the changes I’ve decided to make is spending less time online, particularly on social media, which I find is often more damaging than it is helpful these days. I’m off Twitter – my account is being used as a personal one now, rather than a music-related one, so I’ve kept that to just a small number of personal friends. Facebook and my blog will have any news and updates still though.

Lately I’ve been listening to Eberhard Weber, Tangerine Dream and Nurse With Wound, and I’m just starting to break into a six disc set of Samuel Barber’s complete orchestral works, which should be interesting.

Ambisphere/fauna issues once more

Unfortunately I have to inform you that the new version of Ambifauna, entitled Ambisphere, has been removed from Bandcamp by Psychonavigation Records. I’ve written before about how the label is in breach of contract for the initial release and has blocked me on social media and ignored my emails trying to resolve this.

I sent a new mix and master of the album to Asura Revolver records to release in the hope of being able to share the album through a label who respect their artists. Unfortunately, Psychonavigation filed a copyright infringement claim to have the album removed, and Bandcamp have complied. Again, the label are in breach of contract, and this is a different mix of the album, but sadly these issues are a bit more complex than a simple takedown notice can sort out, and I no longer have the energy to deal with this situation anymore.

At the end of next year the copyright will return to me, and I’ll make sure the album is available on my Bandcamp once more. In the meantime, if anybody is interested in acquiring the album, please feel free to contact me and I can hook you up with a tape or a download.

I’d like to thank Patrick at Asura Revolver for going ahead with this reissue despite the situation, and for fighting my corner when this happened.

I’ve heard much worse stories from artists who’ve released on Psychonavigation, and have still got off lightly compared to some, and for that I’m grateful. So this is just an important reminder to never consider working with the label or buying their releases.

19th January 2018

A belated happy new year. Hope everybody is enjoying 2018 so far. It all started off a little rough this end, but things are picking up again now. I’ve been enjoying working on a few tunes recently, reinstalled Ableton just to spice things up after working in Reaper for quite a while now. A piece I’m really proud of has come from these sessions, which you can hear below:

It was fun getting the guitar out again after quite a long absence.

Otherwise, a couple of dates for you: Eclipsis will be out on 26th January, and Ambisphere will follow two weeks later on 9th February.

 

29th December 2017

It’s the end of the year and recollection time. It’s been an interesting year for me, musically, and one very much of two halves. The first half of the year was incredibly busy both behind the scenes and publicly. Both Myosphere and Seltrac got incredibly overdue releases, to great response and sales, whilst a large amount of music was put together with little success of actually completing an album. This brought a mixture of satisfaction and frustration, which is a blend I’ve become incredibly familiar with over the last few years.

Since then, I’ve been making gradual changes in my own personal approach to music, and have felt a lot happier because of them. I’m taking future projects back to a much more personal level, after a few years of being more overtly active online and such. Frankly, most of the stuff I’m proudest of has sounded the least like music I’ve been listening to during its creation, and although it doesn’t always help in terms of self-promotion, I feel a lot happier existing in my own little bubble rather than as part of a music scene in general.

The first music born out of this perspective will form an album called Peregrination which I’m hoping will be released at some point in the next 12 months. Aspects of it require it to not be a cassette release, so I’ll be branching out towards labels new to me and ones I’ve not worked with for some time to get a release. Before that, there will be a few more releases next year: Eclipsis, a collection of pieces from the difficult early 2017 sessions I mentioned above, to be released on Aurawire in Jan/Feb; Ambisphere, a remastered & improved version of Ambifauna on a label who will actually give me money and respect my wishes, to be released on Asura Revolver around the same time; the fourth Winter of the World album, Croxton Kerrial, will be released on Celldeath; and The Mirror and the Light, the very long overdue Middlemarch remix album, which will come out as a CD on Carpe Sonum later in the year. These are all older works, but ones it’ll be nice to have out there.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on new music. For a while I think I was quite self-conscious about having an identifiable sound, but I’ve rediscovered the love of each work sounding different to those around it. It’s an approach I took early on (I once naively dreamed of getting ‘signed’ to a label to release Vacuum Road Songs, only to follow it up with the industrial-themed Dead Hymns, and wondering what fan response would be), and one I’ve realised works best for me. I recently re-designated all of my Bandcamp albums as International Debris ones, blurring the lines between Second Thought, Ross Baker and ID, and added a couple of unfairly ignored works in there (I very briefly considered returning to being Second Thought again, but thought fuck it, let’s continue to move forward). I feel more confident in my body of work in general than I have in some time, and I have some idea of how to move forward again, after the creative crisis I hit by reaching all my initial musical goals on Myosphere.

Personally, it’s been a year of ups and downs, which seems to be the norm these days. On the whole, I think I’ve come out of 2017 feeling a lot more positive and confident as a person than I went in, which, given everything that’s happened in the world, I feel is something of an achievement. My tinnitus is still here, I still have OCD attacks and I’m still stuck at my parents’ house without a clear path forward. But I have much more hope that I can get on top of things in the not-too-distant future than I have done in a very long time. I’ve realised it’s counter-productive trying to feel like I’m ‘picking up where I left off’ (a concept I’ve been very fond of in the past), but I feel like my realistic life goals are closer to those I had in 2009/2010 than they have been since that time.

I’ve listened to a fair bit of new music this year, although on the whole I’d say less than the previous few. I’ve felt it necessary to cut down my new musical intake for some time now, although doing so is easier said than done. On the whole, I find I listen to music a few times only to pop it into my collection only to be forgotten more often than every these days, and I think that’s easier dealt with by simply focusing on a smaller number of albums in the future. Quantity over quality. I’m still enjoying a lot of poppy stuff, but for the most part the only other music that fits largely into the rock/pop/dance categories is stuff by artists I’m already familiar with. I’ve found most new music I’ve enjoyed lately tends to fall largely into classical / jazz / early new age / improvised music / avant-garde / folk and similar realms. Maybe my brain is just preparing me for the fact that next year I’ll be closer to my 40s than my 20s, but discovering labels like ECM and Windham Hill, and delving further into artists like Deuter and Miles Davis seems to have enthused my listening a lot more than trying to find new ambient techno and indie artists who excite me. That said, my top 10 albums of 2017 list is relatively low on surprises for those who are already familiar with my taste:

1. Paul Draper – Spooky Action
2. Roddy Woomble – The Deluder
3. The Future Sound of London – Archived : Environmental : Views
4. Max Richter – Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
5. Lorde – Melodrama
6. Wire – Silver / Lead
7. Off Land – On Earth
8. 36 – Black Soma
9. Carbon Based Lifeforms – Derelicts
10. London Grammar – Truth is a Beautiful Thing

Anyway, it’s 2018 in a couple of days, and providing the political state of the world doesn’t become even more inflamed, I’m hoping to personally make it through to the end of the year with positivity and purpose. And lose a couple of stone while I’m at it. I always said I’d wake up on my 30th birthday and find myself a fat fucker, and although it’s been a more insidious process, it’s happened and I need to do something about it.

I hope everybody reading had a wonderful festive period, whatever they found themselves doing, and that you all have a wonderful 2018.

Current status of Ambifauna

The current situation with Ambifauna:

Around a month ago, the Psychonavigation Records website and Bandcamp went offline, leaving no direct link to be able to order any of their items.

I recently contacted Keith Downey, the label’s owner, to discuss this and, given that the label has supposedly closed down for good, try and get my rights back so I can maybe reissue the album and give it the promotion it deserved.

In response to this, Keith has ignored my emails and has now blocked me from messaging him on Facebook.

Keith and the label have come under a fair bit of criticism recently regarding non-payment of artists and various other issues (there’s some discussion on the label’s page on Discogs if you want examples), and although I have been affected by this I decided not to air these issues publicly through my International Debris pages, because I find these kinds of internal arguments unpleasant to discuss so openly.

However now I am left with no alternative. Downey has informed at least one artist that the label has closed and given him his rights back. With the closure of the label, the contract is cancelled, and now the continued sale of Ambifauna through outlets such as Amazon, iTunes and Spotify is illegal and unsanctioned by myself. I will not see payment from sales or streams through these sites, and sadly I can only take Downey’s blocking me as a sign that he plans to profit from these – and those of other artists on the label – as long as possible before somebody takes legal action and the whole label’s catalogue is taken down.

In short: please do not purchase or stream Ambifauna through any services other than my own Bandcamp – where I will be uploading it soon – as this digital distribution is now unsanctioned by myself and illegal.

I have started making plans to get the album reissued by another label, but these are currently on hold until either Downey responds to me, or the label’s catalogue goes offline by other means.

As Ambifauna is thematically tied to my recently released album Myosphere, this couldn’t have come at a worse time, but I will hopefully have a Bandcamp link for everyone soon.

Thank you for your patience and understanding

Ross / International Debris

7th April 2017

The next few weeks will see the release of both Myosphere and Seltrac. These will complete the first chapter of International Debris.

Both albums feature material that was started at the time I started Bathe in the Lights of Distant Cities, and pretty much everything released since then – Anxiety, Ambifauna, Thursday Morning Taylor Swift, Estuary, and my vaporwave material – has been part of the same recording sessions. There are many tracks which were initially intended for one album that appeared on a totally different one. Although all the records have individual themes and atmospheres, in my head they all occupy the same space. This level of overlap is totally unlike anything I’ve done before.

A couple of months after tidying up all these, I returned to work and pieced together TimewyrmMistral and Opaline, partially from unfinished ideas and partially from new material. In some ways these form a coda to those original sessions.

I’m incredibly satisfied with how all of this has come together. Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while will know that for some time I went through a period of unhappiness with my output, roughly between (but not including) Canal Seven and cer. Although there are some wonderful finished albums from this period, it’s also an era in which I spent as much time restructuring as I did actually recording. Different versions of albums appeared and disappeared from various Bandcamps more times than I can remember, and there’s still a fair amount of material I’ve effectively disowned from this time.

Although I can’t stay that the creative process has been easy since starting ID – for someone with mental health problems like myself, I spend as much time loathing what I do as I do loving it – I’m incredibly happy with the state of my music since then. I’ve been able to return to a time with no expectations, simply making music I want to make, and all of the releases – particularly the main five albums and the Anxiety EP – are among my favourite things I’ve done. In many ways, my material as Ross Baker was a healing process,  and ID finds me fully recovered again (which also explains why cer sounds like a cross between the two, transitional album as it was).

Once I make a full start on new material then I think chapter 2 of ID will be on the way. It will probably be different to the current (and shortly-to-be-released) batch of records, although I’m sure it’ll still sound like me regardless.

Up and at them!

31st December 2015

2015, then. I won’t deny it’s been a difficult year. After a relatively good 2014 this year’s been rocky. I ended up in hospital with my mental health issues again. I ended up moving back in with my parents again. On the other hand, I’ve learned a lot about myself and am so much more confident going forward with my life, about who I am and what I want. I am more aware than ever of my weaknesses, what aspects of my life trigger off anxiety, and things that make my OCD flare up; equally I feel more capable of managing these things moving forward. I am hoping in 2016 I’ll be able to redress the balance in lifestyle and be able to start functioning better socially.

Musically it’s been a year of some real highs and proper lows. International Debris started properly at the start of the year, and since then I’ve put out a couple of full-length albums, including Ambifauna, one of my strongest records to date. That came out on Psychonavigation, probably my most high profile release, although one which received disappointingly little coverage or response. The first half of the year also saw the release of probably my most personal release to date, the Anxiety EP. More recently I’ve put out a number of vaporwave releases which have been very well received. I was also very proud to put out a tape on one of my favourite labels, ((Cave)) Recordings, with the second Winter of the World album (my collab with Noisesurfer​). I curated five episodes of Terminal​ Radio, and since then have been running a fortnightly show called Dream Machine, both on the brilliant Future Music FM​.

On the downside, I’ve had more doubts about my own music this year than any time in the past, and have seriously considered giving up all together. I recently tied together various odds and ends into an album called Remains (to be released next year on Aloe City Records​), and I am going to be making a fresh start in the new year, spending more time really getting to grips with the hardware I’ve acquired over the past couple of years and really learning how to use it rather than pissing around and using the bits that work. There are two other albums coming in 2016, ParkCity by Day on Beer Wizard​ in Jan/Feb, and Curtain Moon later in the year on a label still to be announced. There should also be a collection of lo-fi synth jams called Genderqueer Synth Diaries, to come out on the lovely Third Kind Records​ at some point.

Most of my best moments this year have involved Lucy and Rosey. Without them I wouldn’t have got through half of what I got through. They are both beautiful and wonderful.

Here’s to 2016. Happy new year to you all. 🙂

8th November 2015

Thought I’d do a diary entry as it’s been a few months. It’s a rather wet and windy November afternoon and I’m looking out onto the same street I was looking out at when I recorded Purlieu, Vacuum Road Songs, Canal Seven and the bulk of Leaf Pass. This all ties in with my completing an album that in many ways marks a return to the album format I was working with back in those days; it’s almost a return to the Second Thought modus operandi. After diving headfirst into folky acoustic music four years ago, I’ve been making small steps back towards this direction. Following on from this July’s Ambifauna – which had the amorphous soundscape of old but still retained the 45 minute album format – my new record reaches out over nearly 75 minutes.

The album took eleven months to put together, and has been through more incarnations than I can actually remember (titled Street Gardine, Hypogeum, Chrysalism, among others). At one point it was an airy, field recording-heavy record (most of which turned up on the Anxiety EP); it’s been through various directions since then – at one point almost entirely beatless ambience, at another quite rhythmic and lo-fi – and only one track remains from the original version of the album, which is pretty heavy going even for me. For quite a long time I didn’t think it was ever going to be finished and this was the cause of a higher number of “I’m never making music again” moments than normal.

And then something changed. I started really getting into vaporwave. Interestingly, I’m not the only person who’s said they’ve found vaporwave has rekindled their love for music and/or music making. Notably HKE wrote about it on his blog. Anyway, I started playing around with making my own vaporwave stuff and eventually began to put some ambient and new age-tinged tracks together, and suddenly I realised these pieces were the perfect fit for the album I’d been working on for months. Over a few weeks I put together half an album and weaved it in with a handful of older tracks and out came what I’d like to think is one of my strongest albums in a very long time. It’s called When I Look at the Sky I Know it is Different and contains thirteen tracks. All being well it’ll be out on a really good label in the new year.

Alongside that there will be three EPs which are more traditionally vaporwave sounding, either earlier experiments with the sound, or tracks that closed out the recent sessions after the album was complete. What I really like about vaporwave is the variety and the community. Unlike several other music scenes I’ve found online, people are really keen to get involved, chat, share music and collaborate. There’s little in the way of elitism or snobbishness. And whilst a lot of people have the image of it being nothing more than ‘80s pop songs slowed down and looped, the name refers to such a huge range of stuff, from the dreamy ambient of t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 to the dubstep-influenced HKE, the groove of various vaportrap artists, the almost Daft Punk sounding Saint Pepsi, the fucked up mixtapes of Pursuing Paradise etc. etc. etc. The great thing is that people are into all of this. There’s none of the ridiculous box ticking niche nonsense you often find with other styles – so many approaches of ambient, yet each seems to have its own set of labels and fanbases. For someone like myself who struggles to sound the same over the course of a track let alone an album, it’s refreshing to find a place so welcoming.

Anyway, I have a refreshed sense of creativity that I’ve almost accidentally stumbled across after years of not being quite sure where I was heading. You can hear some samples of my new pieces on my Soundcloud. I’m happy to be properly moving forward again.

Lately I’ve been listening to a fair bit of ‘60s psychedelia, particularly The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, and discovering various obscurities through YouTube. Nmesh and t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者’s new split on Dream Catalogue is fantastic, and I finally have a copy of the second 2814 album on tape, so that’s been on the player quite a bit. And the new Chvrches.

Since Second Thought ended I’ve been fairly quiet on the updates front, choosing to just pop up with the occasional bit of news every now and then. This entry has been a bit bulky but I’ll hopefully be writing less, more regularly, in the coming months.

4th August 2015

Been a while since I posted an update about my music…

Ambifauna came out a couple of weeks ago, reactions have been very positive so far. It’s available directly from the label, as well as from Amazon, iTunes, Juno, Kudos and various other online outlets, as both CDr and various digital download formats.

The album itself I am incredibly proud of. In these days of uncertainty about my own music, I am really happy with Ambifauna. In some ways, it’s a concise version of everything I was trying to achieve with Second Thought back in the day, although containing a lot of new sounds. Certainly the seamless flow and segues have achieved everything I ever wanted to do with that sound.

I’ve recently been tying up the next album, which I’ve been labouring over since January. It’s been a lot more difficult than most of my albums, going through countless incarnations over the months, with about thirty tracks being considered for it in total (only seven will be on the final version). It is spiritually linked with Bathe in the Lights of Distant Cities and stylistically not that drastically different from Ambifauna; the three form a loose trilogy for me, and after this I’ll be moving off to do something different. The album should be appearing next spring at some point, more news on that soon.

After a couple of years in London, I’m actually back in Hinckley again. No matter where life takes me, I always seem to end up back here again. With all the health issues I’ve had over the last few years I’m using it as an opportunity to finally get a bit of peace and rest and hopefully recover and be able to move forward with my life as and when I’m ready.

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Ishq, Pete Namlook, Susanne Sundfor and Tangerine Dream…